“Let us now sing the praises
Of famous men,
In their generations.
The Lord apportioned to them
The Lord apportioned to them
His majesty from the beginning.”
Sirach then turned to a hymn to honor all his famous holy ancestors from past generations. Their lives, like the saints of the later Christian tradition, illustrated the glory of God. Notice how all are male. In their own generations, they were glorified by the Lord so that his majesty might shine in their lives from the beginning. For those familiar with the 1981 movie “Chariots of Fire” will recognize this verse from the opening scenes of the movie at the memorial services.
Praise the name of Yahweh!
O servants of Yahweh!
You stand in the house of Yahweh!
You stand in the courts of the house of our God!
Yahweh is good!
Sing to his name!
He is gracious!
Yahweh has chosen Jacob for himself.
Israel is his own possession.”
Psalm 135 does not have a title as this hymn praises God for his mighty deeds. This psalm begins with a “praise Yahweh” that is equivalent to an “alleluia,” the Hebrew “Hallelujah.” The psalmist wanted all the servants of Yahweh to praise his name. They were standing in the house of Yahweh, in the courtyards. They were to praise Yahweh and sing to his name. After all, Yahweh was gracious. He had chosen Jacob and made Israel his possession.
I will give thanks to Yahweh,
With my whole heart,
In the company of the upright,
In the congregation.
Great are the works of Yahweh,
Studied by all who delight in them.
Full of honor and majesty is his work.
His righteousness endures forever.
He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds.”
Psalm 111 is a hymn of praise to Yahweh because he has kept his covenant with Israel. Although there is no title, this fairly short acrostic or Hebrew alphabet psalm has a letter for every line. Like the next 2 psalms, it starts with the refrain “Praise Yahweh” or the Alleluia cry, which is the Hebrew word “Hallelujah.” The psalmist will give thanks to Yahweh with his whole heart at the congregational meeting. He talked about the great works of Yahweh that delights those who study them. Yahweh is full of honor and majesty in his work. Of course, his righteousness lasts forever because he has become well known by his wonderful actions.
“O give thanks to Yahweh!
Call on his name!
Make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him!
Sing praises to him!
Tell of all his wonderful works!
Glory in his holy name!
Let the hearts of those who seek Yahweh rejoice!
Seek his strength!
Seek his presence continually!
Remember the wonderful works he has done!
Remember his miracles!
Remember the judgments he has uttered!”
Psalm 105 is usually combined with Psalm 106 to be recited at some major feast, since it recalls all the great events in the life of the Israelites. However this long psalm has no introductory title. The first section is a hymn to Yahweh. Some of the texts have an Alleluia to start this hymn. We give thanks to Yahweh. We call on his name. We tell everybody about him. We sing praises to him. We glory in his holy name. Those who seek Yahweh can rejoice. We seek his strength and his presence continually. We remember his wonderful works, his miracles, and his judgments.
O my soul!
You are very great!
You are clothed with honor!
You are clothed with majesty!
You are wrapped in light
As with a garment!
You stretch out the heavens
Like a tent!
You set the beams of your chambers
On the waters!
You make the clouds your chariot!
You ride on the wings of the wind!
You make the winds your messengers!
Fire and flame are your ministers!”
Psalm 104 is a hymn to Yahweh as creator that does not have a title. However, it follows the cosmology of creation as in Genesis, chapter 1. This psalm continues with the idea of blessing Yahweh. The psalmist’s soul is to bless the great Yahweh. Yahweh is clothed with garments of honor, majesty, and light. Yahweh had stretched out the heavens like a tent. This was the classic view of creation with the beams set in the waters. The clouds were his chariots so that Yahweh rode on the wings of the winds. The winds and fires were ministering to Yahweh.
“Yahweh has established
His throne in the heavens.
His kingdom rules over all.
O you his angels!
You mighty ones who do his bidding!
You are obedient to his spoken word!
All his hosts!
His ministers that do his will!
All his works!
In all places of his dominion!
O my soul!”
This psalm ends with a rousing hymn of blessing to Yahweh. Yahweh is the king who rules over all from heaven. Thus all the angels who do his bidding and hear his word are to bless Yahweh. Everything that exists should bless Yahweh. David’s soul should bless Yahweh.
“When the waters saw you!
When the waters saw you,
They were afraid.
The very deep trembled.
The clouds poured out water.
The skies thundered.
Your arrows flashed on every side.
The crash of your thunder
Was in the whirlwind.
Your lightnings lit up the world.
The earth trembled.
The earth shook.
Your way was through the sea.
Your path was through the mighty waters.
Your footprints were unseen.
You led your people like a flock
By the hand of Moses and Aaron.”
This psalm ends with a remembrance of the power and presence of Yahweh when he was with Moses and Aaron. He recalled the power of God in the storms. He remembered how Yahweh had helped his people get out of Egypt. These themes were captured in this ancient hymn to God. The waters were afraid of God, as if the waters had feelings of trembling before God. The lightnings in the sky were the arrows of Yahweh. The thunder was his voice. The earth trembled, much like the waters. The earth shook. However, he led his people by way of the great sea so that they were no footprints left behind. He led his people like a flock of sheep through the hands of Moses and Aaron. Notice that Aaron is considered the equivalent to Moses here.
“Rejoice in Yahweh!
O you righteous!
Praise befits the upright.
Praise Yahweh with the lyre!
Make melody to him
With the harp of ten strings!
Sing to him a new song!
Play skillfully on the strings
With loud shouts.”
There is nothing here about this Psalm 33 that indicates that it came from David since there is no introduction to this psalm at all. This clearly is a Temple hymn, a call to worship Yahweh. The righteous were to rejoice in Yahweh. They should offer praise that befits an upright people. They were to praise Yahweh with the lyre, an ancient horseshoe shaped frame with strings. They were to make a melody to Yahweh. They were to use a ten stringed harp. They were to sing a new song. They were to play on the strings skillfully, not in a sloppy manner. Finally they had the loud shouts, like the shouts for war, as Yahweh would lead them on to victory.
“To the choirmaster leader, according to the deer of the dawn, a psalm of David
Why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from helping me?
Why are you so far from the words of my groaning?
O my God!
I cry by day.
But you do not answer.
I cry by night.
But I find no rest.”
This Psalm 22 is a psalm of David with a choir leader. However, there is a notation “according to the deer of the dawn,” which probably refers to some lost hymn or tune. This is a psalm for help or deliverance from a serious illness or persecution. This is much like the suffering servant in Isaiah, chapters 52-53. The Gospel of Matthew, chapter 27, and the Gospel of Mark, chapter 15 indicated that Jesus Christ quoted the first few verses of his psalm as he hung on the cross. The forsaken one cried to God. Why was no help coming from God? The suffering one cried during the day and at night, but there was no answer. He could not find any rest.
“In the heavens,
He has set a tent for the sun.
The sun comes out
Like a bridegroom
From his wedding canopy.
The sun is like a strong man
Who runs his course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens.
Its circuit is to the end of them.
There is nothing hid from its heat.”
This is almost a hymn to the sun. However, Yahweh is in control of the sun. Clearly this sun is revolving around the earth. The sun comes out like a bridegroom from a wedding canopy. What a description of a sunrise! The sun is like a strong man who cannot be deterred from his course that he runs with joy. The sun rises at one end and does a circuit to the other end of heaven or the sky. Nothing can hide from the heat of the sun.